Three Reader Critiques: On Ash, CO2, спам

1) A reader begs to differ with the USGS ash fall map mentioned here:

The USGS map that you post shows the 1980 Mt. St. Helens ash plume as floating East across Washington and Idaho, and essentially stopping at the Montana border.  As someone who was a 16-year old high school student in Missoula, MT, at the time, I'd like to say that this is inaccurate. 

Missoula and the areas around it were deluged by between .5 and 1 inch of fine ash, which covered everything.  The entire town ground to a halt, because nobody knew what was in the ash, and because the air pollution readings (Missoula is one of those mountain towns that suffers from frequently poor air-quality due to temperature inversions) were exceeding the highest levels on the charts by a factor of ten.  Even the local schools closed (and this is Montana - you don't close school for any normal "weather" conditions).  I can remember literally hosing off the street outside my house with my siblings, all wearing surgical masks, which the local hospitals were giving out to those brave/foolhardy enough to venture out into the eerie and silent city.  

2) Another dares raise the question: what are the CO2 implications of this whole volcano/ aviation mess? Since like me he is an aviation buff, he has mixed feelings about the results shown by InformationIsBeautiful, here:


3) Reader George Bazhenov, in Russia, answers this item with the reassuring news that the Nigerian spammers are still doing fine:

I read your subject article with interest because some time ago my spam box looked very much like yours but now it shows a lot of spam in English. I have no explanation of this. By the way, most Russian-language letters shown on the screenshot that you published offer inexpensive mail distribution, i. e., more spam.

Secondly, the Nigerians are now operating in Russia - two of my friends who do not speak English have recently asked me to translate letters from Nigeria which they received via email.
Presented by

James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.


A Stop-Motion Tour of New York City

A filmmaker animated hundreds of still photographs to create this Big Apple flip book


The Absurd Psychology of Restaurant Menus

Would people eat healthier if celery was called "cool celery?"


This Japanese Inn Has Been Open For 1,300 Years

It's one of the oldest family businesses in the world.


What Happens Inside a Dying Mind?

Science cannot fully explain near-death experiences.

More in Technology

From This Author

Just In